TeX - LaTeX Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, and related typesetting systems. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is it possible to search for LaTeX characters like \alpha in a PDF file? Perhaps there's some PDF reader that can do that?

share|improve this question
Just search for α. If you want to make equations copyable and searchable in PDF see tex.stackexchange.com/a/119718/31416 – giordano Jul 1 '13 at 21:26
@giordano That is a great feature! Are you sure those ActualTexts are searchable as well? (too lazy to test right now) – MHaaZ Jul 1 '13 at 23:21
@MHaaZ yes, I tried before posting ;-) – giordano Jul 2 '13 at 7:41

It's not quite as comfortable as it could be, but here's how I do it:

  • Open the Character Map on your system
  • Copy the symbol you want to search for in the PDF
  • Do a normal text search (Ctrl+F on most readers) and paste the special symbol

Of course this only works with single symbols and not if you want to search for bigger parts of formulas (for example something like \frac{\alpha}{8 \times d_{k}^{3.17}}. Still, better than nothing...

For me, this works with the PDF Viewer evince to find the small character "α" (\alpha). It works for pretty much every Unicode character you want to look for.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.